Posted by David Oates 3 years, 7 months ago

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It's been happening more and more for the past year. Traditional media outlets - TV, Newspapers and Magazines - are now prostituting their editorial content to the highest bidder. We see regular news sections, awards programs and in-depth feature opportunities no longer going to those with the more valuable information and impact to the audience. Instead, they are reserved for those willing to open their checkbooks and pay for the priviledge of being covered.

The most recent happened to me just a week ago with a regional monthly business magazine. After being told that three of my clients' executives were named to a "Who's Who" list that I pitched, the publisher of the media outlet pulled their selection because we didn't push them hard enough to advertise in the media outlet. He went on to say that "it's a quid pro quo scenario." While I appreciated his honesty (though after the fact), I was appauled at the audacity of his comments. He was actually proud of the proposed arrangement he set forth.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of advertisement, both online and offline. There are several times and places where such initiatives are vital to a successful campaign. However, doing so didn't historically come at the cost of journalistic integrity. If a news story ran - good, bad or indifferent - it was based on the credible, verifiable facts presented. What's more, stunts like the pay-for-play initiative conjured up by my publisher friend will actually do the opposite and hurt their overall sales. That's because most readers and marketers see right through these deals and view the media outlet as less than credible, hurting the brands of both the media outlet and its sponsors. Companies won't stand for this too long before taking their money elsewhere.

I get that many traditional media outlets are hurting as social media and online outlets are eating away at their market share. But that doesn't mean they should sacrifice their core offering - quality news coverage - to make them whole. For in reality, it won't do much more than accelerate their demise.

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